More than five years after a Reserve couple was charged with killing their 8-year-old son, a state judge will hear a motion Monday to dismiss the charges on the grounds of double jeopardy.

Errol and Tonya Victor have been indicted three times in the death of M.L. Lloyd III – Tonya’s son and Errol’s stepson – since the boy was pronounced dead at River Parishes Hospital in LaPlace in April 2008. The most recent indictment is the focus of the motion slated for a hearing in 40th Judicial District Court in Edgard.

Covington attorney Stephen Yazbeck, who has a petition pending before the court to enroll as the Victors’ counsel, is seeking to dismiss the second-degree murder charges against them, arguing that when the couple’s second indictment was dismissed, it should have been the end of the matter because state prosecutors’ appeal of the dismissal failed.

“A motion to quash acts (as) a final judgment and acquittal if an appeal is denied or is never taken,” Yazbeck wrote in a court filing in July.

The defense motion says that bringing the same charges once again “raises fundamental double jeopardy concerns,” and warns that allowing it would give prosecutors the upper hand. The state attorney general’s office is prosecuting the case.

“It is more burdensome for a defendant to face charges in separate proceedings, and if those proceedings are strung out over a lengthy period of time the defendant is forced to live in a continuing state of uncertainty,” the defense filing states. “At the same time, multiple prosecutions allow the state to hone its trial strategies through successive attempts at conviction.”

In the five years since young Lloyd died, the Victors have steadily maintained their innocence, saying the boy suffered a severe asthma attack that was provoked by fighting with his brothers. But authorities say the boy’s body was badly beaten. The death certificate listed the cause as “asphyxia due to neck compression,” and an autopsy showed extensive bruising, according to news reports at the time.

Errol Victor Sr., now 48, was initially charged with first-degree murder, while Tonya Victor, now 39, was charged with cruelty to a juvenile and being a principal to first-degree murder. In a twist, the boy’s stepbrother, Errol Victor Jr., who took the child to the hospital, was charged as an accessory, though that charge was not pursued.

In the wake of the first indictment, Tonya Victor allegedly acknowledged to sheriff’s deputies that she had hit Lloyd with a belt as punishment for bad behavior the day he died. That led prosecutors to convene a second St. John the Baptist Parish grand jury, which returned an indictment against the couple in 2009, charging both with second-degree murder. That meant prosecutors needed to prove the couple intended to inflict great bodily harm, but not necessarily to kill the boy.

But a state judge later granted a motion to vacate that indictment because a St. John sheriff’s deputy serving on the second grand jury panel had worn a shirt advertising his employment with the department. In April 2010, the couple was indicted for the third time in two years.

The case was set for trial in August 2011, but the Victors fled on the eve of the proceedings. They dodged authorities for nearly eight months before being captured in Tifton, Ga., hours after their case was featured on an episode of the television show “America’s Most Wanted.” Three months later, the couple was extradited to Louisiana.

Latest legal round in often-delayed St. John murder case set for Monday http://www.keystore.fr/

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